Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Yawen, Li


This study explores former foster youth’s perceptions and factors in pursuing higher education. Twelve participants provided insight on their experiences when in the foster care system that had impacted their pursuance of higher education. Many participants elaborated on their lives after aging out of the system, and how they navigated life as former foster youth. This was done through a self-paced audio recorded interview along with questions regarding demographics and information pertaining to the amount of time each individual spent in the foster care system.

This study’s findings were able to identify overarching themes on former foster youth, such as social supports, inclusion of foster youth integrating into society and institutions such as post-secondary education, the differences in foster youths’ definition of success, and acknowledging the many known risk-factors of foster youth. In addition to this, our study also brings to light factors such as self-determination and undeniable resiliency in the stories of our participants. We found that social supports were a significant factor in former foster youth’s pursuance of higher education and their ability to succeed by completing their degrees. We found that many individuals did not agree or could not agree or disagree when asked if they felt they could express their needs in relation to post-secondary education with their social worker

Included in

Social Work Commons